How to Sell Your Timber
A timber sale is a serious matter requiring careful preparation. The results of many years of past timber growth are at stake, and the condition of the forest after the sale profoundly affects its productivity for many years to come.
While the Mississippi Forestry Commission does not facilitate the sale of timber for private landowners, here are a few tips to begin the process:
1. Rely on the Expertise of a Registered Forester
Selling timber can be a source of great satisfaction to a landowner. It may also be a source of surprise, frustration, and stress, especially for those landowners who make timber sales infrequently.
Relying on the expertise of a registered forester to help with the harvest planning and timber sale can prevent surprises to either the seller or buyer and help ensure landowners get the best value for their timber.
2. Develop a Forest Management Plan
Properly managed forests yield more timber, have a higher net present value, suffer fewer environmental impacts, and enhance wildlife habitat more than non-managed forests.
Forest management plans are also required for third-party certification and future markets, such as Woody Biomass and Carbon Sequestration.
The Mississippi Forestry Commission can prepare forest management plans free of charge for landowners with 250 acres or less.
3. Pre-Harvest Planning
Pre-harvest planning will ensure that your forest management objectives and goals are not compromised. It will reduce opportunities for misunderstandings between you and the buyer and/or logger, help ensure that the harvest will maximize financial returns for all parties, protect water quality, and maintain or enhance forest productivity.
Before harvesting begins, you or your representative should conduct an on-the-ground meeting with the buyer and logger to review the pre-harvest plan.
The consequences of not having a pre-harvest plan include: time and money spent on unintended problems, degraded forest conditions, illegal activities, declining water quality, more forest land impacted by skidding, degrading post-harvest condition of forest soils, trees more susceptible to disease and insect damage, reduced regeneration of seedlings and saplings growth, etc.
4. Determine a Selling Method
Timber is generally sold by one of two methods: negotiation or sealed bid. You should seek the advice of your Registered Forester to determine which method is best for you and your harvesting objective.
- Negotiated sales involve face-to-face bargaining between you and the buyer.
- Sealed bid sales require that prospective buyers submit confidential offers in writing for your timber.
Generally, the sealed bid method returns the highest dollar value to you, the landowner, especially if you are unfamiliar with local markets. The negotiated sale is more prevalent for specialty products such as high-value hardwoods, where there are normally very few bidders. Whichever sale method you select, require the logger to be Professional Logging Manager (PLM) certified.
5. Have a Contract
A written contract is essential and will reduce surprises to both you and the buyer and/or logger. Preparing a contract encourages forethought and planning, which will minimize difficulties and ensure that the transaction meets your expectations. A contract is not a substitute for good faith and fair dealing between par-ties, it is a framework in which good faith and fair dealing can operate in an orderly and effective manner.
6. Monitor the Harvest
You or your agent should frequently inspect the harvesting operation to ensure the contract terms are being fulfilled.
When you sell on a per-unit basis, a full accounting of what was removed during the harvest should be provided by the buyer. You can designate how frequently you want the information: weekly, monthly, or at the end of the sale.
7. Closeout with Buyer/Logger
- A notice of completion of harvest from the buyer can be helpful in removing any question if the buyer considers the harvest complete and relinquishes remaining biomass back to owner.
- Review and agree on action and timing to address any land or timber damages related to harvesting operations.
- Address any other issues related to non-compliance of the contract.
- Ensure compliance with BMPs
More Information About How to Sell Your Timber
To find a registered forester to assist with your timber sale, visit the Mississippi Board of Registration for Foresters.
The Mississippi Timber Price Report is a quarterly report by Mississippi State University. The report may assist you in determining market trends when planning a timber sale.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I sell trees from my yard?
Simple economics makes it unlikely that you will be able to sell yard trees. Loggers are in the timber business and there must be value with enough timber volume to offset the considerable costs of bringing heavy equipment, cutting and hauling the logs, paying you for the trees, and still being able to make a profit. Yard trees are more difficult to harvest, typically are of lower quality than woods-grown, and often contain embedded metal which can damage saw blades and other timber processing equipment. In rare cases it might be possible to market the sawlog portion of high value trees, such as black walnut, to local woodworkers or portable sawmill operators. However, finding a willing buyer would require a significant effort on your part. Yard trees can have more value as part of a well maintained landscaped property. If you want a yard tree removed, you should get estimates from several certified tree service companies.
What is considered timberland?
A minimum of 10-20 acres is typically needed to contract a logging company to harvest your timber. Modern, efficient logging operations require high capital investments in equipment and harvesting low volumes on small acreages is usually not financially feasible. The cost of moving logging equipment from one tract to another is a major expense for loggers. So larger tracts will receive higher prices per unit of volume sold, especially if they are located near quality roads. The threshold for financial viability is also affected by the volume per acre, tree size and quality (grade).